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Range Networks' OpenBTS at the Heart of Solution to Assist Helicopter Search and Rescue Missions

Date: 2014-04-25
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Iceland-based Rögg Develops Application for Coast Guard to Rescue Lost Hikers

Range Networks, a leading provider of commercial open source cellular systems and leader of the OpenBTS™ software project, has announced that Iceland technology integrator Rögg Corporation has developed a solution using OpenBTS and Range Networks’ hardware to aid in search and rescue missions in the Icelandic highlands. The solution exemplifies OpenBTS as a foundation for innovative and unique communications applications.

During Search And Rescue operations, helicopters become flying cell networks: To reduce search time and increase safety, Röggdeveloped a solution called the Norris Positioning System (NPS). NPS triangulates the location of lost hikers through cell phone signals at distances up to 20 miles by performing calculations based on the GSM timing advance value and mapping the results on iPad tablets. Icelandic Coast Guard Super Puma helicopters have been outfitted with NPS and an omnidirectional antenna, mounted under the fuselage, essentially turning the helicopters into flying cellular networks.

Previously limited to visual searches, helicopter crews now have a tool that is indifferent to fog, rain or snow and introduces a new approach for searching areas difficult to access on foot or with vehicles. Following numerous test flights, NPS is now operational, has been used in four large search operations and has contributed to one rescue thus far.

The game-changing nature of this solution for search and rescue was recognized by the Icelandic telecoms regulator, PFS, and has resulted in a reserved channel in the 1800 band for national use of the application.

Developed by Range Networks, OpenBTS is an open source software implementation of the GSM radio access network and enables innovative applications, such as NPS, by providing developers with access to the GSM stack running on a standardized Linux computer.

“We’ve seen first-hand the risks posed to both rescuers and missing persons in these extreme conditions,” said Baldvin Hansson, director of technology for Rögg Corporation.  “People get lost in the highlands all the time, and it’s not uncommon that they are carrying their cell phones. Through this technology, the Coast Guard is able to locate lost individuals faster and more efficiently, oftentimes completing the mission in the amount of time it used to take to launch one.”

 Additional information is available at:

- Corporate News/ (via Range Networks, 4/23/14)



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